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Councillor resigns from party over budget cuts

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By Charlotte MacKay
Dumfries and West
Councillor resigns from party over budget cuts

NORTH West Dumfries councillor Ronnie Nicholson has resigned from the Labour group in Dumfries and Galloway Council over proposed cuts to teaching posts.

Proposals for next year’s budget will be presented to a full council meeting on Thursday, and the Labour/SNP is due to be published at 5 pm this evening.

But today Mr Nicholson, member for North West Dumfries and former leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said proposals to remove at least 40 teaching posts in the region were “a cut too far.”

Commenting on his decision to resign from the Labour group he said: “This was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make and in all conscience I could not support a proposed SNP Labour budget which made such draconian cuts in teachers.

“Given the reduction in funding from the Scottish Government the council has an impossible task to make over £15 million of savings without impacting negatively on services.

“But the decision to axe at least 40 teaching posts is a cut too far and one that is avoidable.

Mr Nicholson has also condemned the Labour/SNP plans to spend over £500,000 on new proposals such as a Community Initiative Fund and also increase the reserves held.

He continued: “I wanted to suggest that we used this money to retain teaching posts instead but I was prevented from even making this suggestion at the last Labour Party meeting before the budget.

“After decades as a Labour Party member I simply cannot be involved in a decision that will damage our kid’s education locally, therefore regrettably I had no choice but to resign from the Labour group.”

Commenting on Mr Nicholson’s resignation, Dumfries and Galloway Council leader Elaine Murray said: “I deeply regret the resignation of councillor Ronnie Nicholson from Dumfries and Galloway Labour Group. He has served the council and the Labour Party with great dedication for many years and his experience will be greatly missed.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council has already been forced to make £96 million of cuts since austerity began in 2010/11. This year we faced a further funding gap of over £16 million, and the coalition administration has had to make some extremely hard choices in order to produce a fiscally competent budget, choices we have made with heavy hearts.

“Any reduction in posts within the Council will be made through early retirement and voluntary severance, redeployment and the elimination of vacancies. We will continue to adhere to our policy of no compulsory redundancies.”

Mr Nicholson is pictured on the day of his election as a councillor

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